2019 British Open Picks, Predictions, Sleepers, PreviewPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 British Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Royal Portrush, and tell you how you can get into draws for over $1,000 in giveaways this week. But first, at 7:05, Tim Anderson joins to fill us in on his Top 3 picks for the 2019 British Open.
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2019 British Open Picks: Show Index
2019 British Open FieldField: 156 Players | Top 70 and Ties Make the Cut (No MDF)
First Tee: Thursday, July 18 at 1:35 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Francesco Molinari
On the 148th playing of The Open Championship, henceforth in this column known as the 2019 British Open strictly for SEO purposes, the tournament makes its first stop in Northern Ireland in 68 years. When one of the world’s best players is a Northern Irish, and two other Northern Irish have claimed Major victories this decade, you throw them a bone. Who knew Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Darren Clarke lobby would have such influence over the R&A? It’s like when Canada got the President’s Cup because Mike Weir was good. This was before Weir became an Uber driver to pay his bills.
156 players will migrate to Royal Portrush in hopes of becoming the Champion Golfer of the year; 70 (and ties) of those players will stick round to play the weekend after 36 holes. The MDF rules (secondary cut) that you’ll regularly on the PGA Tour if more than 78 players squeak through the cut line does not apply in Majors. No consecutive days with a cut sweat for your DraftKings lineups this week.
The finalized field was set following the conclusion of the John Deere Classic on Sunday afternoon the moment Dylan Frittelli hoisted his novelty check in the Quad Cities. In all, 14 players will be taking the chartered flight from Silvis, Iowa across the Atlantic. Earlier in the morning, The BEEF, Andrew Johnston, playoff loser Benjamin Hébert, and Nino Bertasio grabbed the three qualification spots available from the Scottish Open.
The Top 50 in the world rankings is well represented. They’ll all be in the field minus Kevin Na. Na had been struggling following his win at Colonial, causing him to withdraw after a round at the 3M Open a few weeks about, then decided to skip last week’s John Deere. At 55-years-old Miguel Angel Jimenez is clearly an old, however, at three scores young, Tom Lehman rates the highest on the geriatric scale. At 21, Chilean Joaquin Niemann is the youngest. And, as the only South Africa born, American citizen, Rory Sabbatini holds the title for most Most Slovakian player in the field. Strange how that works.
It’s been some time since the British Open has concluded the Major calendar for the golf season, but luckily it leaves the viewing audience with the best taste in their mouths. Golf Channel will full coverage of the event, in conjunction with NBC on the week. Beginning in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, 1:35 a.m. ET to be specific, Darren Clarke, James Sugrue, and Charley Hoffman will tee off in Portrush, and unlike every other golf event, we’ll actually get to see it. Seems like something every tournament should have in 2019, alas, this is unique to The Open. And, in lieu of your regular resources for following live scores through the PGA properties, you’re going to want to use The Open App and www.theopen.com to track your players and their live shots. The PGA site and app will be 15-20 minutes behind real-time scoring, like at all Majors.
Whether you’re approaching the 2019 British Open from a DraftKings or wagering perspective, beyond researching the stats and utilizing the tools on Fantasy National, scouting the weather will be imperative. No event’s results are influenced more by wind and rain than The Open; we’ve witnessed entire waves of golfers have their Claret Jug dreams shattered because they drew the short straw while the players who tackled the course five hours early saw optimal scoring conditions.
Problem is, getting an accurate weather report is nary impossible when the course is located directly on the ocean. There’s a wind tower at Portrush, and that will be the best guide. However, the forecast seems to change every 12 hours or so. The longer you can hold off building DraftKings lineups, hopefully, the more reliable the accuracy of the weather reporting. If you’re planning on playing multiple rosters this week, stacking tee times is the prudent move. For this week, micro tee stacking, grouping players together in two-to-three hour intervals, may actually be something to consider (Full tee times). Although a favorable weather window may reveal itself, having it hold up over the course of the entire first two days may not happen, so scattering the groups of players in an attempt to get lucky could be the best strategy.
2019 British Open: Key StatsStrokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained
Strokes Gained: Short Game
Par 5s Gained
2019 British Open: CourseCourse: Royal Portrush
Par: 71 (Scorecard)
Weather: Portrush Wind Tower
2019 British Open: Past Winners2018: Francesco Molinari -8 (Carnoustie)
2017: Jordan Spieth -12 (Royal Birkdale)
2016: Henrik Stenson -20 (Royal Troon)
2015: Zach Johnson -15 (St. Andrews)
2014: Rory McIlroy -17 (Royal Liverpool)
2013: Phil Mickelson -3 (Muirfield)
2012: Ernie Els -7 (Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
2011: Darren Clarke -5 (Royal St. George’s)
2010: Louis Oosthuizen -16 (St. Andrews)
2009: Stewart Cink -2 (Turnberry)
2019 British Open Experience: 2012 Irish Open Leaderboard1st Jamie Donaldson -18
T2 Rafa Cabrera Bello -14
T2 Anthony Wall -14
T2 Fabrizio Zanotti -14
T5 Mark Foster -13
T5 Mikael Lundberg -13
T7 David Drysdale -12
T7 Paddy Harrington -12
T7 Craig Lee -12
T10 Rory McIlroy -11
T10 Ross Fisher -11
T10 Francesco Molinari -11
T16 Graeme McDowell -10
T18 Thorbjorn Olesen -9
T24 John Daly -8
T39 Darren Clarke -4
T44 Emiliano Grillo -3
T44 Jorge Campillo -3
T51 Shane Lowry -2
T65 Robert Rock +4
T66 Joost Luiten +5
MC Dylan Frittelli -1
MC Keegan Bradley E
MC Branden Grace +1
MC Andrea Pavan +2
MC Tommy Fleetwood +3
MC Danny Willett +3
Zander Lombard was second at the 2014 Amateur Championship at Portrush
2019 British Open: NotesFounded in 1888, because everything on the British Isles is old, Portrush was the first links outside England to host the British Ladies Championship; it has since played home to the event nine more times. The last in 2011. Originally known as “The Country Club,” in 1892 it became “The Royal Country Club” when the Duke of York became a patron. Three years later King Edward VII also made the club his Ireland Mar-a-Lago. This stuff isn’t some new development. The fake-news Midland Daily Telegraph coverage, who were VERY UNFAIR with their coverage on the Boar War, forcing him to take refuge on the most northern tip of Ireland and golf his problems away. Plus, despite being the Emperor of India at the time, and also known for his inability to properly play the ball off the wall in left field, King E7 felt like Bombay was a tad too far of a trip in the pre-aviation period to get a Royal Golf Club on the go.
More than 60 national championships between Ireland and Britain have been contested at Portrush over the past century and a quarter. The first professional tournament was held here in 1895. Portrush became the first Northern Irish site of an Open Championship in 1951; it has hosted six Senior British Opens since 1995. In 2012, the Irish Open came to the course, marking the first time a European Tour event had been hosted in Northern Ireland.
The course looks pretty different from 2012, though. Since that tournament, five new greens, eight new tee boxes, and two new holes have been added. The Par 5 No. 7 and Par 4 No. 8 are new; holes 17 and 18 were taken away. There are also 10 new bunkers, yet Royal Portrush still sports the fewest bunkers in Open history.
Unlike other Opens, the grounds are far more undulating than most links courses and a bevy of the greens are elevated. Additionally, the putting surfaces we generally associate with British Opens are bumpy, like California courses, the greens at Portrush are slick, and the R&A plans to have them running as fast and firm as possible. Again, veering off from our normal Open expectations, the fairways are wider than your average course, but the rough will be a lot thicker than we’re used to as well. The comp isn’t perfect, Erin Hills comes to mind when you hear it described. Like Erin Hills, the wind is the primary form of defense for the course. So, if it never materializes, like what happened at the 2017 US Open, scoring conditions could be very favorable.
This is a decision you’ll have to make and commit to before the tournament starts. If it appears like the wind will be down most of the week, with the wider fairways, bombers will have a significant advantage if there are no repercussions to hitting driver every hole. Conversely, if it looks like the wind will be up, place more of an emphasis on accuracy and iron play. Gusty conditions will give more of the field a chance to win too.
Stats and skills are one thing, but there have been a lot of telling trends at the British Open over the years. Lead in form being a primary indicator. Two of the past six Champion Golfers won their last start prior to hoisting the Claret Jug. Four the past six have a victory in one of their two lead in events to the British Open. Five of the past six have a win in one of the previous five starts. The only outlier was Zach Johnson, who had three top-10 finishes in his five starts before heading to St. Andrews in 2015. Additionally, of those six champions, each one had a top-10 finish at the British Open within the past five years before their win.
Using these parameters, either a win or three top-10 finishes in their previous five starts, that leaves just: Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Now, to whittle that list down a bit, no player has become Champion Golfer of the Year without playing at least once between the US Open and the British Open since Johnny Miller in 1976: That takes Tiger and Scott off the list. Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Webb Simpson are the others who’ve been on an extended layoff.
Obviously, these are more fun to look at than to deploy as actual indicators, but hot play entering The Open should be weighted significantly when finalizing your picks. And, like at the US Open, being familiar with R&A course setups is valuable, even if the venues are completely different. In a minimum of three starts, over the past five years: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, Alex Noren, Jim Furyk, Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell, Gary Woodland and Ryan Palmer haven’t missed the cut at the world’s oldest Major.
2019 British Open Picks — Targets From Each RangeHenrik Stenson ($8,400)
A former British Open champ, the Swede’s iron play has been absolutely scorching entering The Open. He leads the field in SG: APP over the past 24 rounds, has reeled off three straight Top 10s, and he has the perfect weapon should the wind start to blow: The accurate 3-Wood of doom. After experiencing a string of poor putting performances, Stenson gained an average of +4.2 SG: PUTT in his final two North American starts before seeing everything go sideways at the Scottish Open over the weekend. Still, despite a case of the short-misses, he was still able to remain in contention and churn out a T4 finish. Overall, the world’s No. 37 ranked play has made 10 cuts in a row, and he has seen the weekend at the British Open in each of his past 10 starts. His last missed but at The Open was in 2007.
Justin Thomas ($9,100)
I’m such a sucker for JT and his ball striking. While winners at the British Open tend to screw older, the value on Thomas entering the year’s final Major is too rich to pass on. Be it in the DraftKings pricing or in the betting markets, Thomas’ wrist injury his playing a YUGE factor in his price point and odds. However, since returning from said first injury at The Memorial, it’s been the putting, not driving or irons that have been the problem. The injury occurred at the Honda Classic in March, and in the six PGA starts he made after, he lost strokes on the greens in every single one; culminating with a hilarious -7.6 SG: PUTT performance at the Travelers Championship before heading overseas. It is worth noting, despite dropping almost eight strokes with his putter to the field, he still came T36. Last week at the Scottish Open, JT looked a lot better on the greens. He still wasn’t good, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. Like Stenson, despite a poor putting performance, he was still good enough with his ball striking to managed a top-10 finish. If he can keep up his elite performance tee-to-green, the world’s premiere Par 4 player should only need a slightly better than average performance on the greens to contend at Portrush.
Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,500)
One of the world’s best links players, RCB enters, like Stenson, like three consecutive Top 10s, with his last two (Irish and Scottish Opens) coming on links venues. Historically a form player coming into the British Open, the Spaniard won the Scottish Open a week before a T4 in 2017, and missed three straight cuts before a horrible T74 a year ago. Although the course has been changed, RCB is still one of the only players in the field with competitive experience at Portrush (T2 at 2012 Irish Open, so ride the form with a player whose best work comes in Europe.
Marc Leishman ($7,700)
Another player who’s had extreme putting problems early this year, but unlike the other selections, it appears like he has rectified the issue. Having gained on the greens in three straight starts, Leishman gets another crack to win a Major at his happy place. He’s made five cuts in a row at The Open, with three top-six finishes over that span, and enters having gained strokes on approach in 12 of 13 2019 events. Now, if conditions are completely benign, he may have some problems. If you’re taking the Aussie, pray the wind gets cranked up to 11.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Erik Van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Joaquin Niemann
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.